Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the Pope's illness was not serious. He said the Pontiff was suffering from a flu, and "he has to listen to the doctor." The Pope remained in bed at the archbishop's residence in Krakow.
In his 87 previous foreign trips, the Pope had never previously been forced to cancel public appearances because of illness. But there was some speculation that on this occasion John Paul would be forced to forego the remainder of his trip to Poland, and return directly to Rome. The Holy Father had made two last-minute additions to his schedule: a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Czestochowa and a personal visit to the dying leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin I; those two trips are now expected to be cancelled.
The Pope had been enthusiastically looking forward to his return to Krakow, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1946, consecrated as a bishop n 1958, and installed as archbishop in 1964. During his pontificate he has visited his old archdiocese five times, and on each occasion he has received an extraordinarily warm welcome.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, took the Pope's place as the principal celebrant for the Mass. Cardinal Franciszek Macharski of Krakow read the homily which the Pope had prepared.
When the crowd gathered for the Mass heard the official announcement that the Pope was ill, there was a loud collective sigh, and many people who had been waiting patiently in the rain broke down in tears. Several thousand people surrounded the archbishop's residence after the Mass, hoping to hear some news of the Pontiff's health. They were kept at a distance, so that the noise from the crowd would not disturb the Pope's rest.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls reacted immediately to the incident. After giving details of what happened, he said the Pope had not suffered "any variations in his biological parameters, specifically in his arterial pressure and his cardiac activity. His neurological picture also remains unchanged." In layman's terms, the Pope had not fainted.
Navarro-Valls announced there would be no changes in the program of the papal visit. In fact, the Pope's schedule yesterday made any apprehensions groundless.
After his fall, John Paul II traveled 125 miles by helicopter, celebrated a Mass of two hours' duration under a merciless sun in the heart of a huge plain crossed by the Vístula river, near the medieval city of Sandomierz, one of the oldest in Poland. With great energy he addressed 400,000 people, among whom were many youths, and told them "not to be afraid to go against fashionable opinions and proposals that are opposed to God's law."
"The courage of faith is difficult, but love must not be lost," the Pope said. He accused the "civilization of death" of wanting to "destroy purity of heart."
During the afternoon, the Pontiff was in good physical form. While presiding over a Liturgy of the Word, he spoke with a firm voice and joked with the faithful. At the end of the day, he traveled 200 kilometers to return to Warsaw.
But, there has, in fact, been a change in the Pope's program. A new and symbolic visit has been added to his marathon around his native land. Next Thursday John Paul II will visit the shrine of Czestochowa. ZE99061304
The Pope began by referring to man's insatiable thirst for God, and he asked his listeners, "what conditions we need to fulfill, in order to encounter this God, to know him and to be united to him."
"One of these conditions is purity of heart," the Holy Father answered. "What does this mean? At this point we touch upon the very essence of man who, by virtue of the grace of the redemption accomplished by Christ, has regained the inner harmony lost in Paradise because of sin. Having a pure heart means being a new person, restored to life in communion with God and with all creation by the redemptive love of Christ, brought back to that communion which is our original destiny."
John Paul II emphasized that purity "is first and foremost a gift of God. Christ, by giving himself to man in the Church's sacraments, comes to dwell in our heart and enlightens them with the 'splendor of truth.' Only the truth, which is Jesus Christ, is capable of enlightening the reason, purifying the heart and shaping human freedom. Without understanding and free acceptance, faith withers. Man loses sight of the meaning of things and events, and his heart seeks satisfaction where it cannot be found. Purity of heart is thus, above all, purity of faith."
The Pope spoke about purity as "labor" for contemporary man. "He must constantly make the effort to oppose the forces of evil, which exert pressure from the outside and affect his interior, in order to separate him from God. In man's heart, there is an incessant struggle for truth and happiness. In order to obtain victory in this struggle, man must go to Christ."
Today this message is very timely, according to the Holy Father. "The culture of death is determined to destroy purity of heart. One of its strategies is to deliberately create doubt about the value of the human attitude which we call the virtue of chastity. This is something particularly dangerous when the attack is aimed at the sensitive consciences of children and young people. A culture which in this way impairs or even destroys a correct relationship between individuals, is a culture of death, for man cannot live without love."
Addressing the youth and soldiers directly, the Holy Father said in a loud voice: "Do not be afraid to live in a way contrary to fashionable opinions and ways of life in conflict with God's law. Do not let yourselves be seduced by illusions of happiness for which you will have to pay a price that is too high, the price of often incurable wounds or even of a life destroyed! Only a pure heart can bring to fulfillment that great commitment of love which is marriage. Only a pure heart can fully serve others. Do not allow your future to be destroyed."
At the end of his homily, John Paul II appealed to families to collaborate in promoting the culture of love among youths. "It is necessary that the family take a firm position in defense of safeguarding the threshold of their home, in defense of the dignity of each person. Guard your families, especially children and youths, against pornography, which today invades man's conscience in many different ways." ZE99061306
The Holy Father began his homily by recalling that historic moment of 1979, when despite Communist rule, he and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski appealed for liberty in Poland. In fact, following Cardinal Wyszynski's death, every day Poles expressed their opposition to the regime in a peaceful manner. They lit candles and made a cross out of flowers in the center of the Square. When the police removed it, they only began the same process all over again on the following day.
Referring to the Holy Spirit, the Pontiff said: "In those difficult times, we asked that his power might be poured into the hearts of men and women, and that hope might be stirred in them!" The Holy Father then asked, "Is not all that happened at that time in Europe and the world, beginning with our own homeland, God's response?"
But, the Holy Father added, "We especially give glory to him for what has happened in the life of the Church during these twenty years."
Speaking about the Churches that came out of the catacombs ten years ago, he explained that their "vitality is a magnificent witness to the power of Christ's grace, which enables weak men to become capable of heroism, frequently to the point of martyrdom." The renewal of the Church in this country is very evident. Poland is the nation with the largest number of annual priestly ordinations.
The Pope pointed out that some were tortured and killed for having defended Jews. Among the laity were five youths of the Salesian formation groups, a Catholic Action militant, a lay catechist who suffered torments until death in order to carry out his work, and a woman who freely gave her life to save that of her daughter-in-law who was pregnant.
"For the disciples of Christ today, may their witness lead to a new awareness of the needs of others; may it inspire them to serve others selflessly, in a spirit of love of God and neighbor. May it indicate the path for all those who desire holiness," the Holy Father concluded. ZE99061305
Of the 108 martyrs, 3 were bishops, 52 diocesan priests, 3 seminarians, 26 priests religious, 7 men religious, 8 nuns and 9 lay people. Among them was a widow, who deceived the Nazis by pretending to be her pregnant daughter-in-law, in order to save the life of the mother and child.
Some of the new blessed suffered martyrdom for being in solidarity with the Jews. This was the case, for instance, of Sr. Ewa Noiszewska and Sr. Martha Wolowska, who were shot in Slomin on December 19, 1942, for having helped and protected Jewish children. Sr. Klemensa Staszewska was killed in Auschwitz for having hidden Jewish girls in the convent.
Of the 108 martyrs, 62 were killed immediately and violently, while 46 died after undergoing torture, ill treatment, hunger, and pseudo-scientific experiments. The majority, 78, died in the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps.
According to Tomasz Kaczmarek, general postulator of the beatification cause, "the study of the persecution of these 108 blessed reveals the ferocity with which the ideological principles of nazism were applied, the hatred of the faith, and the barbarism against the Polish Catholic Church. This attack was leveled against ecclesial institutions, and against the clergy in particular, but the laity was not exempt, as they were considered dangerous to the system."
According to Father Flavio Peloso, the reference postulator in Rome for these causes, "from the beginning, the German occupation of Poland was, clearly, a planned struggle against the Church. It was organized mercilessly to destroy the Church. The historical reconstruction has documented the character of religious persecution of the repression applied by Hitler's Nazism in Germany and later extended to the occupied nations."
According to Peloso, the large number of priest martyrs was the result of the Nazis' determination to decapitate the Church in Poland. It carried out many raids, jailed a large part of the clergy, as well as many religious and lay people who had important or influential posts in the Church. The number of those deported to camps is particularly impressive. In Dachau alone, there were 2,794 priests and religious from 21 countries, of whom 1,734 were Polish. Of the 1,034 clergymen who met their death there, 868 were Polish." ZE99061301
An enormous crowd-- estimated by authorities at 1 million-- flocked to the Pilsudski Square to see the Pope, and greeted him with thunderous applause. They heard him urge them to thank God for the recent changes in their society, "while looking toward the future with confidence."
In Pilsudski Square-- which was called Victory Square during the Communist era, and renamed after the collapse of the Communist regime-- the Pope presided at the beatification of 108 Polish victims of the Nazi regime-- including 3 bishops, 78 priests, 15 religious, 3 seminarians, and 9 laymen. The Pope urged the congregation to imitate the witness of these martyrs, so that their faith could be "a light that guides the path of all of those who want to become saints."
Before leaving, the Pope blessed the foundation of a new basilica which is being built in Warsaw in thanksgiving for the recovery of freedom.
The following day, the Pope delivered the same message directly to Polish youngsters. Speaking to an enormous congregation of young people outside the old city of Sandomierz, the Holy Father said, "Do not be afraid to live in a fashion contrary to the styles of public opinion and the principles contrary to the law of God. He warned the young people that "free love" is "a deformation of love," which leads to "wounds which are often incurable," and "even to broken lives."
Later in the day, at a separate gathering in the town of Zamosc, near the Ukrainian border, the Pope denounced "the extermination of unborn children" as well as "the intentional killing of people who are aged or sick," and "inadmissible human interventions and manipulations at the beginning of human life." The Pope was in Zamosc to bless a hospital that bears his name-- an institution which, thanks to a special charter, did not allow abortions even when the practice was legal and widespread in Poland.
The Pope received three stitches to repair a cut on his right temple after the incident on Saturday morning. But he did not alter his schedule; he left the nunciature promptly at 8 AM, and celebrated Mass in the town of Sandomierz on Saturday morning. The Holy Father appeared healthy throughout the ceremony, although he was watched carefully when he walked to and from the altar, across the field on the outskirts of the walled medieval city.
Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the Pope's injury was superficial, and he would require no medical treatment other than the eventual removal of the sutures. Thus the accident was much less serious than two previous incidents on which the Pope fell: in November 1993, when he dislocated his shoulder; and in April 1994 when he broke his leg.
Father Joseph Maj, who heads a large Warsaw parish, said that Polish people might be listening to Pope John Paul a bit more attentively during this trip than on previous papal visits. Echoing a theme that other Poles have sounded during this trip, he said that on prior visits the Pontiff was cheered wildly as a symbol of freedom from Communism, but now his thoughts are studied more carefully as the country struggles to come to grips with a post- Communist regime. "The Pope teaches us about the importance of our individual decisions in a democracy," the pastor said. "We have been accustomed to being passive, and letting the authorities make the decisions."
Young people in particular are receptive to the Pope's message, Father Maj continued. "They feel that they will be responsible for the future of Poland, and they are also conscious that, as we enter the European Union, they must protect our own country's interests and identity."
Lowicz is known as a center of scholarship, as well as a city keenly affected by the new economic and social changes that are sweeping Poland. During his appearance there, the Pope spoke of his satisfaction with new Church-state agreements which have allowed greater freedom for parochial schools, and resumed the practice of teaching religion in state-controlled schools.
"The school should be a source of social virtues," the Pope said. He argued that students should be free to "declare their religious convictions openly," along with "patriotic sentiments." The two are intertwined in Poland, he observed, adding "It is not possible to serve the nation well without understanding its history, its tradition and its culture."
When he first arrived as the cemetery-- the site of the graves of soldiers who repelled a Soviet advance that had been ordered by V. I. Lenin-- the Pope nearly broke into laughter over the intense shouts of greeting from a group of young children. But he appeared closer to tears when he stopped at the memorial. "I have come to pay a debt to those who defended liberty n our country and in Europe," he said. The Pope recalled that as a boy he had heard many accounts of the battle, which occurred in the year when he was born; his father recounted the story frequently, he said.
The Holy Father emphasized the fact that among the martyrs were people from several of the forms of life in the Church. In fact, among the new blessed there were 3 bishops, 52 diocesan priests, 26 priests of religious congregations, 3 seminarians, 7 religious men, 8 religious women, 9 laypeople and a woman who freely gave her life in order to save that of her daughter in law and the child she bore in her womb. Some of the new blessed suffered martyrdom after trying to help prosecuted Jews during Nazi occupation.
The Pope also prayed so that the witness of these martyrs "makes today's disciples of Christ more sensitive to the needs of others; to encourage an uninterested service, full of spirit of love to God and to the neighbor", and so that it becomes "light that guides the path of all of those who want to become saints."
The Pontiff continued normally the scheduled activities. He flew by helicopter to the prairie near the ancient city of Sandornierz where he celebrated a largely attended Mass. Before a large number of young people Pope John Paul II talked about the importance of purity, especially in today's world.
"To have a pure heart", explained the Pope to the young people, "means to be a new man, restituted to the life of communion with God and the whole creation, due to the love of Christ that redeems". He warned against one of the means that the culture of death has in order to "destroy purity of heart": "to intentionally put in doubt the value of the human attitude we know as chastity".
The Pope declared that "a civilization that hurts and destroys in this way the proper relationship among persons is a civilization of death, because the human person cannot live without true love". The Pope exhorted those present with firm voice to face this difficult situation: "Don't be afraid to live against the opinions of the world!" He then added: "Only a pure heart is able to carry out until the end the great enterprise of love that is matrimony! Only a pure heart can fully serve others! Don't let others destroy your future".